Bruce Dickey is one of a handful of musicians worldwide who have dedicated themselves to reviving the cornetto – once an instrument of great virtuosi, but which lamentably fell into disuse in the 19th century. The revival began in the 1950s, but it was largely Bruce Dickey, who, from the late 1970s, created a new renaissance of the instrument, allowing the agility and expressive power of the cornetto to be heard once again. His many students, over 40 years of teaching at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, have helped to consolidate and elevate the status of this once forgotten instrument. For his achievements the Historic Brass Society awarded him in 2000 the prestigious Christopher Monk Award for “his monumental work in cornetto performance, historical performance practice and musicological scholarship.” In 2007 he was honored by British conductor and musicologist Andrew Parrott with a “Taverner Award” as one of 14 musicians whose “significant contributions to musical understanding have been motivated by neither commerce nor ego.”
In the course of his long career as a performer and recording artist he has worked with most of the leading figures in the field of early music, including the legendary pioneers of historically informed perfomance, Gustav Leonhardt, Frans Brüggen and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. He was a member for over ten years of Jordi Savall’s Hesperion XX, and has frequently and repeatedly collaborated with Ton Koopman, Monica Huggett, Philippe Herreweghe and many others. Of special importance has been his long-time friendship and collaboration with Andrew Parrott, and in more recent years with Konrad Junghänel.
Bruce Dickey can be heard on countless recordings. His solo CD (“Quel lascivissimo cornetto…”) on Accent with the ensemble Tragicomedia was awarded the Diapason d’or and was chosen in 2017 by Diapason Magazine as one of the 100 best CDs of Baroque Music of the past half century. His second solo CD, entitled “La Bella Minuta”, was released on the Passacaille label in 2011, and was described as, “simply a brilliant recording”. Sample tracks can be heard, and the CD purchased, on the website of the record label by clicking here. His latest solo CD, Breathtaking, together with Czech soprano Hana Blažíková, has received rave reviews. For more information see the Breathtaking page under the Projects menu above.
In addition to performing, Bruce Dickey is much in demand as a teacher, both of the cornetto and of seventeenth-century performance practice. In addition to his regular class at the Schola Cantorum he has taught at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, and the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, as well as master classes in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. He is also active in research on performance practice, and has published, together with Michael Collver, a catalog of the surviving cornetto repertoire, and, together with trumpeter Edward Tarr, a book on historical wind articulation. In 1997, together with his wife Candace Smith, he founded Artemisia Editions, a small publishing house which produces editions of music from 17th-century Italian convents.
In 1981, Bruce Dickey moved to Italy, partly to be closer to the origins and source materials for his instrument and its music. He currently lives with his wife, the singer Candace Smith, in a country house, surrounded by vineyards, outside of Bologna, home of the original Concerto Palatino.